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Palm Pre Review

Palm Pre

Posted: , posted by PhoneArena Team



webOS is a revolution.  Many will look at is as an evolution of Mobile OSX, and it does a great job of picking up where Apple left off, but the thing is Apple left off so short and Palm filled in so much that it is a wholly new experience.  While it may not be quite as intuitive as Mobile OSX out of the box, after a few minutes of exploring we felt perfectly comfortable with it and webOS undoubtedly allows both the user and developer to go deeper.  It is all about connectivity, and Palm hits the nail on the head.

Home screen - Palm Pre Review
Launcher - Palm Pre Review

Home screen


First off, when you touch the screen there is a very cool ripple effect.  It’s small enough to be noticeable but not intrusive, which will become a theme of webOS.  Of course it also lets you know where you’re touching, which turns out to be very useful.  The bottom of the home screen has a five icon launcher.  The far left is phone, the far right is menu and the middle three can be customized by holding an icon and dragging it in/out of the launcher.  The launcher disappears when you enter an application, but can be pulled up within that app simply by sliding your finger from the button up the screen.  This is incredibly functional, and while the wave effect it gives in this mode may just be eye candy, but it’s very cool eye candy.

webOS is full of gestures like this, most of which are very intuitive.  Some are familiar, such as swiping the screen to switch between pages and pictures, others are new such as use of the gesture area.  In this are the user can flick back and forth to move between web pages, or simply to take a step back.  Gestures make the Pre very easy to use and the gesture area below the screen makes the Pre unique.

To nitpick for a second, when launching an application there is a very slight lag, about a second, before it actually opens.  It is noticeable if you’re impatient, but in our opinion it’s perfectly acceptable.  The iPhone is no different in this regard, so again we’re just nitpicking here.  When closing certain cards there is sometimes a very slight delay as well, but not always.  We have a feeling this is because data is saved automatically when you close the card.  Everything else on the Pre is virtually instant; animations are smooth and menu transitions are nearly flawless.

By now you’ve no doubt heard about Synergy, Palm’s solution to your cluttered assortment of personal data.  Palm has taken a new approach to contact management, and in fact there is no desktop sync for webOS.  On first use the user will be able to import data from Outlook, Palm Desktop and iCal, but after that it is all in the cloud.  It doesn’t stop there though, the user can also import data wirelessly from Gmail and Facebook, and in the future any other service that takes advantage of this.  This data is added throughout the device as well, for instance adding a Gmail email account also adds your Gmail contacts, Google calendar and GTalk.   Again, very cool.  For those looking for a traditional desktop experience PocketMirror and Mark/Space are available in the App Catalog.

Palm Pre Review
Palm Pre Review
Palm Pre Review
Palm Pre Review
Palm Pre Review

Activity cards on Palm Pre - Palm Pre Review

Activity cards on Palm Pre

Another major feature of webOS is activity cards, which is how it handles multi-tasking.  Multi-tasking isn’t new in the mobile space, Windows Mobile and BlackBerry OS have been doing it for years, but it is a glaring drawback of Mobile OSX.   The way Palm handles them is unique however; instead of a traditional task manager applications are minimized into a card view, where the user can flip through them to quickly switch apps.  They are easily closed by swiping them up and off of the screen, a move that is strangely satisfying.  The TI OMAP 3430 processor shines here, and unlike WinMo and even BlackBerry, where too many apps bog the phone down, the Pre can handle 20 or so apps being open at the same time with no noticeable performance drain.

Notifications are wonderful and unobtrusive.  As we said earlier, the display seamlessly blends into the housing.  When a notification comes through, such as an IM or calendar appointment, the display shrinks and the notification dashboard comes up from the bottom.  It gives enough of a preview and if the user wants to acknowledge it you simply tap, if not you can hide it and be left with just a tiny icon.  Lastly, a simple flick of the finger and the notification disappears all together.  If you want to ignore them they do not intrude on what you are doing, which is fantastic.  Never have notifications been handled so well, though this can be said about much of webOS.

The innovation continues with universal search; according to Palm, “when in doubt, type.”  By simply starting to type webOS will begin to match your input from phone features (like Bluetooth or Updates,) contacts, conversations and if what you want is not on the phone you can go out to the web with Google, Google Maps, Wikipedia or Twitter.  No doubt more services will write themselves into this handy feature.

The OS has all kinds of cool caveats and we could talk about it for days, but in the interest of your time we’ll stop here.  We really can’t overstate how much we love webOS, and how excited we are to see it grow and evolve.  It is still very early in Android’s life, but so far it has not lived up to the hype and the debut was a bit underwhelming, arguably because of the buildup.  Palm has quietly built even more hype however, and they really nailed it.  It’s a wonderful starting point, but even Palm has acknowledged that it is just that and they want developers to help them perfect it.  The SDK will become more widely available; Palm has kept distribution intentionally low to ensure quality early on, and with such an easy device to program for we expect to see even greater things.

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PhoneArena rating:
Display3.1 inches, 320 x 480 pixels (186 ppi) TFT
Camera3 megapixels
Single core, ARM Cortex-A8 processor
Size3.96 x 2.34 x 0.67 inches
(100.5 x 59.5 x 16.9 mm)
4.76 oz  (135 g)
Battery1150 mAh, 5 hours talk time

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